Tortured for Christ
by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice of the Martyrs
Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor of the Underground Church, gives us a glimpse of the mind-breaking torture and unthinkable cruelties toward those who refused to renounce all beliefs and values that clashed with Communist atheism and the glorification of human solidarity. Here are some excerpts from Chapter 2:
"I worked in both an official and underground manner until February 29,1948....On that Sunday, on my way to church, I was kidnapped from the street by the secret police....A van of the secret police stopped in front of me, four men jumped out and pushed me into the van. I was taken away for many years.
"For over eight years, no one knew if I was alive or dead. My wife was visited by the secret police who posed as released fellow-prisoners. They told her they had attended my burial. She was heart-broken.
"Thousands from churches of all denominations went to prison at that time. Not only were clergymen put in jail, but also simple peasants, young boys and girls who witnessed for their faith. The prisons were full and in Rumania, as in all communist countries, to be in prison means to be tortured....
"A pastor by the name of Florescu was tortured with red-hot iron pokers and with knives. He was beaten very badly. Then starving rats were driven into his cell through a large pipe. He could not sleep.... If he rested a moment, the rats would attack him....
"The communists wished to compel him to betray his brethren, but he resisted steadfastly. In the end, they brought his fourteen year-old son and began to whip the boy in front of his father, saying that they would continue to beat him until the pastor said what they wished him to say....When he could not stand it any more, he cried to his son; 'Alexander, I must say what they want! I can’t bear your beating any more.
"The son answered, 'Father, don’t do me the injustice to have a traitor as a parent. Withstand!...'
"The communists, enraged, fell upon the child and beat him to death, with blood spattered over the walls of the cell. He died praising God....
"Handcuffs which had sharp nails on the insides were put on our wrists. If we were totally still, they didn’t cut us. But in bitterly cold cells, when we shook with cold, our wrists would be torn by the nails.
"Christians were hung upside down on ropes and beaten so severely that their bodies swung back and forth under the blows. Christians were put in ice-box 'refrigerator cells' which were so cold, frost and ice covered the inside...
"We Christians were put in wooden boxes only slightly larger than we were. ... Dozens of sharp nails were driven into every side of the box, with their razor-sharp points sticking into the box....
"I have seen communists torturing Christians and the faces of the torturers shone with rapturous joy. They cried out while torturing the Christians, 'We are the devil.'
"'We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers of evil.' We saw that communism is not from men but from the devil. It is a spiritual force...of evil—and can only be countered by a greater spiritual force, the Spirit of God.
"I often asked the torturers, “Don’t you have pity in your hearts?” They usually answered with a quotation from Lenin that “you cannot make omelets without breaking the shells of eggs”...
"I have testified before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate. There I described awful things, such as Christians tied to crosses for four days and nights. The crosses were put on the floor and hundreds of prisoners had to fulfill their bodily necessities over the faces and bodies of the crucified ones. Then the crosses were erected again and the communists jeered and mocked:
“Look at your Christ! How beautiful he is! What fragrance he ‘brings from Heaven!”
"I described how, after being driven nearly insane with tortures, a priest was forced to consecrate human excrement and urine and give Holy Communion to Christians in this form. This happened in the Rumanian prison of Pitesti. I asked the priest afterwards why he did not prefer to die rather than participate in this mockery. He answered, “Don’t judge me please! I have suffered more than Christ!” ...
"Other things simply cannot be told. My heart would fail if I should tell them again and again. They are too terrible and obscene to put in writing. That is what your brothers in Christ went through and are going through now....
"Innumerable times, Pastor Milan Haimovici went to get the beating in the place of somebody else. By this he won the respect of other prisoners not only for himself, but also for Christ whom be represented."
What Brainwashing is Like
For years we had to sit hearing: Communism is good! Communism is good!...
Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid! Christianity is stupid!...
Give up! Give up! Give up! Give up!
For seventeen hours a day....
God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love. I am a witness for the Christian’s in communist prisons that they could love. They could love God and men.
The tortures and brutality continued without interruption. When I lost consciousness or became too dazed to give the torturers any further hopes of confessions, I would be returned to my cell. There I would lie, untended and half dead, to regain a little strength so they could work on me again. Many died at this stage, but somehow my strength always managed to come back.
In the ensuing years, in several different prisons, they broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen ‘holes in my body....
Doctors in Oslo [years later], seeing all this and the scars of the lung tuberculosis which I also had, declared that my being alive today is a pure miracle! According to their medical books, I should have been dead for years. I know myself it is a miracle. God is a God of miracles! [pp.31-41]
"Many western rulers are brainwashed and do not even wish to overthrow the communist rulers. They have said so frequently. They wish that drug addiction, gangsterism, cancer and tuberculosis would disappear, but not communism, which has claimed far more victims than all these together....
"Khrushchev said at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party, ‘Stalin liquidated thousands of honest and guiltless communists. . . Of a hundred and thirty-nine members and candidates of the Central Committee who were chosen at the seventeenth Congress...seventy per cent were later arrested and shot.'..[p. 68]
"The Communists, who very often are as sincere in their beliefs as Christians are in theirs .... had really believed that communism would create a brotherhood among nations. Now they see that communist countries quarrel with each other like dogs." [p. 69]
"They had really believed that communism would create an earthly paradises opposed to what they call the illusory paradise in heaven....Now they have read in their own newspapers that Stalin was a mass murderer." [p. 70]
"I met great preachers and pastors of the different churches... who simply confessed with great sorrow that they were informers for the secret police against their own flocks. I asked them if they were prepared to give up being informers, even at the risk of being imprisoned themselves. All answered "no," and explained that it was not fear for their own persons which restrained them. They told me of new development in the churches, things which did not exist before my arrest -- that to refuse to be an informer could mean the closing of a church.
"In every town there is the representative of the government for control of "cults," a member of the secret communist police. He has the right to call any priest of pastor... to ask him who has been in church, who has taken frequent Communion, who is... zealous in religion, who is a soul-winner, what people confess and so on. If you do not answer, you are dismissed and another “minister” is put in your stead who will say more than you do. Where the government representative has no such man (which nearly never happens), he simply closes the church.
"Most ministers gave information to the secret police, with the difference that some did it reluctantly, trying to hide certain things, whereas others ‘had got the habit and their consciences were hardened. Still others had acquired a passion for it and said more than was demanded of them.
"I heard confessions from children of Christian martyrs who had been obliged to give information about the families in which they had been received with kindness. Otherwise they were threatened with not being able to continue their studies.
"I went to the Baptist Congress, a congress under the token of the Red Flag; here the communists had decided who should be the 'elected leaders.' I knew that at the head of all the official churches were men nominated by the communist party. Then I realized that I was seeing the abomination of desolation in the most Holy Place, about which Jesus speaks.
"...now, for the first time in Church history, the Central Committee of an avowed atheistic party, which has as its declared purpose the uprooting of religion, decides who leads the Church. To lead it for ‘what purpose? Surely, to help in the uprooting of religion." [pp. 73-74]
"I have met much unconcern in the West. Writers around the world protested when two communist writers—Siniavski and Daniel—were sentenced by their own comrades to prison terms. But not even churches protest when Christians are put in prison for their faith.
"Who cares about Brother Kuzyck -- sentenced because he committed the crime of distributing 'poisonous' Christian publications such as the devotional booklets of Torrey, and Bible portions? Who knows about Brother Prokofiev, sentenced for having distributed printed sermons? Who knows about the Hebrew Christian, Crunvald, sentenced for similar offenses in Russia and from whom the communists took his little son for life? I know what I felt when I was taken away from my Mihai. And I suffer with Brother Grunvald, Ivanenko...and on and on—names of saints and heroes of faith in the twentieth century!" [p.79]
"In prison they have daily asked this almighty Father for bread and have received instead cabbage with unmentionable filth. Nevertheless they believe God to be the loving Father. They are like Job who said that he would believe in God even if He would slay him. They are like Jesus who called God, 'Father,' even when He was seemingly forsaken on the cross.
Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied any more with the emptiness of some Western churches. I suffer in the West more than I suffered in a communist jail. because now I see with my own eyes the western civilization dying.
Oswald Spengler wrote in Decline of the West:
“You are dying. I see in you all the characteristic stigma of decay. I can prove that your great wealth and your great poverty, your capitalism and your socialism, your wars and your revolutions, your atheism and your pessimism and your cynicism, your immorality, your broken-down marriages, your birth-control, that is bleeding you from the bottom and killing you off at the top in your brains—can prove to you that there are characteristic marks of the dying ages of ancient states —Alexandria and Greece and neurotic Rome.”
This was written in 1926. Since then, democracy and civilization have died already in half of Europe.... The rest of the West sleeps....
But there is one force which does not sleep: that of the communists. Whereas in the East communists are disappointed and have lost their illusions, in the West communism has remained virulent. The western communists simply do not believe all the bad reports about the cruelties and the misery and the persecution in the communist countries. They spread their 'faith' with tireless zeal everywhere, in the lounges of the upper classes, in the clubs of intellectuals, in colleges, in the slums and in the churches. We, Christians, are often half-hearted on the side of the whole truth. They are whole-hearted on the side of the lie."[80-81]
"I cannot remain silent....The west sleeps and has to be awakened!" 
"I met with a Christian who had suffered under the Nazis. He told me that he is entirely on my side as long as I witness for Christ, but I should not say one word against communism. I asked him if Christians who fought against Hitlerism in Germany were wrong....The reply was, 'But Hitler killed six million Jews! One had to speak against him.' I replied, 'Communism has killed thirty million Russians and millions of Chinese and others. And they have killed Jews, too. Must we protest only when Jews are killed, and not when Russians are killed?' The answer was, 'This is quite another thing.' I received no explanation.
"...communism is at present the greatest foe of Christianity and the most dangerous....(See Communist Goals)
Can Christianity coexist with communists? Here the communists answer this question.... 'Communism is a death blow to religion.”
"Atheism is the state religion in all the communist countries. They give more or less liberty to the way old people believe, but children and youth must not believe. Everything in these countries, radio, television, cinema, theatre, press, publishing houses—has the aim of stamping out belief in God."[87-89]
See also A Small Price to Pay and Serving God in Prison
Home | The Changing Church | Preparing for Persecution | Victory in Christ